The pandemic may have put a stop to offline dating, but it hasn’t got in the way of a rumored romance between Normal People star Paul Mescal and singer Phoebe Bridgers. The pair were reportedly spotted together on a breakfast date last week in the picturesque town of Kinsale in Mescal’s native Ireland

Brightly painted shopfronts near Market Square. ©Pete Seaward/Lonely Planet

The actor, who just received an Emmy nomination for his role in the hit drama adaptation of Sally Rooney’s bestselling novel, traveled from his home in London to County Cork, where he posed for a photo with the manager of Actons Hotel.

A man hugs a woman and smiles outside a hotel. Both are posing for the photographer
Paul Mescal with Fidelma McCarthy, the manager of Actons Hotel, Kinsale © Facebook

“We in Actons Hotel treat all of our guests as #normalpeople,” the hotel said in a Facebook post. “It was an absolute pleasure to have you Paul. Enjoy the rest of your time in Kinsale.”

The following day, the Lemon Leaf Cafe revealed on Twitter that Mescal and Bridgers had stopped by for breakfast, calling them “such amazing talented young people”.

In an interview with NME, Bridgers described how they had followed each other on Instagram after she watched Normal People, and in May, the pair took part in a live-streamed interview for Wonderland magazine. Bridgers, 25, is based in Los Angeles, while Mescal, 24, is originally from Maynooth, County Kildare, although he moved to east London shortly before the lockdown. 

Ireland's most romantic getaways

Mescal and Bridgers haven’t confirmed their relationship, and though there are no photos from their joint visit, Lemon Leaf Cafe owner Tracey Keoghan told news site CorkBeo that the pair were “absolutely delightful”.

The daytime spot is a favorite with tourists and locals alike, serving breakfast, brunch and lunch in the heart of the town. Over the decades, Kinsale has transformed itself from a sleepy fishing village to a foodie destination, packed with gourmet bistros, cool cafes and high-end restaurants including the Michelin-starred Bastion. Seafood is, naturally, a specialty in the area.

The West Cork town is also known for its pretty scenery and narrow, winding streets, loaded with personality and charm. In 1601, it was the site of the Battle of Kinsale, and served as a garrison town and port of consequence for more than 300 years. Its Georgian and Victorian architecture has been lovingly maintained, and visitors can spend hours exploring the town and admiring the slate-clad buildings on the waterfront.

There are a number of sandy beaches with romantic hidden coves to roam, or lovebirds may enjoy a scenic stroll along the coast on the Scilly Walk, overlooking the harbour and the town, with plenty of stops on the way for a cosy pint or a tasty meal.

An aerial shot of a star-shaped fort on a cliff edge
Wander the well-preserved ruins of Charles Fort at the end of Scilly Walk © Martin Dunlea / Shutterstock

The hike leads to the Charles Fort, a star-shaped fort built in the 1670s to guard the harbor. It is still one of the largest military installations in the country, and the well-preserved ruins are worth a wander. Elsewhere, history buffs can follow a heritage trail or take a guided tour to learn more about Kinsale’s past, including the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. 

During the warmer months, Kinsale becomes a popular festival hub, starting with the Point to Point racing festival over the June bank holiday and stretching through Kinsale Arts Weekend and the Regatta in high summer, before the three-day Gourmet Festival in early October.

The nearest airport to Kinsale is in Cork. There are connecting flights from Dublin Airport, or visitors can travel from the capital by bus, train or car.

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